Note: Pictures from COLLive.
I’m finally home. After my GPS threw me “off the derech” so to speak. I was trying to get home from Brooklyn and it sends me through Manhattan of all places. I must have spent an hour in traffic in Manhattan. Why is there gridlocked traffic at 11:30PM!? Anyway, I doubt you’re interested in hearing my driving woes; besides, nothing could ruin the spectacular evening I “experienced” at the Miami Experience Concert; not even the crazy drunk guy who tried to swerve into my car. That’s right kids (and adults), don’t drink and drive! I arrived a little bit late (more traffic…), but I still arrived in time for Benny Friedman, whom opened up the show. He has such a spectacular voice; it’s obvious he’s going places besides the chuppah (Mazel Tov Benny!).
Now that I got all of the preliminary “blabber” out of the way, it’s time for some tachlis. (Forgive me for the grammatical errors; it’s late) ☺
Rifoeinu (Miami) – I arrived at the scene with Benny performing a spectacular rendition of a Miami classic, Rifoeinu, from the Shabbos Yerushalayim album. Although I was still trying to find my seat (where’s my Usher!), I still was able to hear this gorgeous song.
V’hee Sheomdah (?) – Benny faked out the crowd by humming Aaron Razel’s V’hee Sheomdah, and asking if everyone knew it. After the crowd acknowledged him, he proceeded to say how he didn’t have time for such a slow niggun, so he sang a fast version. I couldn’t catch where this tune was from, but it was perfect for the Pesach timing of this concert.
Adon Olam (Miami) – I’m personally exhausted when it comes to Miami’s Adon Olam. However, that didn’t matter, because Benny has an outstanding voice, and it was a nice change of pace from hearing the choir sing it.
That was it for Benny Friedman (aww…); it was short and sweet. Can’t wait to hear the new album!
Nachum Segal, the emcee, entered and announced the return of the Alumni!
The Alumni are back and they’re sounding really good. I was not a huge fan of their album, and I was thinking “oh great…” when they came on, but then I was pleasantly surprised. They were really good! Do they have different guys? I couldn’t tell (that’s what I get for not doing enough research!). They started out with a Carlebach Medley and proceeded to two classic Miami songs. Here’s what they sang:
Carlebach Medley –
Kol Hayom V’chol Halayla (the Shir Hamalos tune!)
Meheira – A gorgeous classic.
P’sach Libi -There was way too much smokescreen during this song, I could barely see them! I felt like I was watching the Alumni in the sauna (weird…).
Overall, The Alumni sounded great, but I was ready for the main attraction! Just then, Nachum Segal walked out and announced Thee Miami Boys Choir (hurray!).
The crowd was eccentric, the music was eerie (in a good way!), and you could feel the excitement in the air from the crowd. Then BAM! The music starts, which leads us to the first song…
Galei – Those kids sure can move. The choreography was amazing, but with everything amazing comes some pitfalls. They were moving so fast and hard that I could see some of the kids sweating; that, and their mouths were not always close enough to the microphone, leaving bits and pieces of the song missing. Then Yerachmiel Begun came out during his part of the song and I couldn’t even hear him. I thought it was the microphone, but it wasn’t (you’ll find out soon). Even with these issues, the crowd loved it, and I did too. It was great hearing a fresh song, and it ended leaving me wanting more.
Yerushalayim – The choir looked excited, and the sound was amazing. The crowd gobbled up every piece of this song; it was that good.
Slow Medley – Nikadeish and Shabbos.
Ba’avur – No electric guitar, which gave it a nicer ring to it. They had a rough start, but they picked it up throughout the remainder of the song. Overall, a lot of energy and very solid.
At this point Begun came out and solved the mystery to his performance in Galei. He mentioned something about having a hoarse voice. Refuah Shelaima.
Esa Einai – The choir threw on some neatly pressed suits for this song. This was the first slow song from the new album they performed that night. They had some very cute choreography, such as; the choir froze in place, each with a different pose, during one of the solos.
Moshiach – A crowd favorite, from Miami’s last album Moshiach. Only half the choir started the song, and the rest joined during the midpoint. The crowd was clapping and you could feel their electricity throughout the entire song. The lighting effects were amazing, really showing off the capabilities of the lighting system. There was a special treat at the end of the song, with a little encore, which included a moment of break dancing.
Nachum Segal returned to ask the crowd a highly debated question on his radio show. “Which is your favorite song from the new album?” Of course the crowd was inaudible with everyone shouting their answer. “That’s the same answer I always get,” he said. “They’re all great and no one can agree.” (haha, very funny).
They came back very briefly to sing Elu Yisrael from their album, nothing much to get excited about. And then they were gone as soon as they appeared!
They’re back and the crowd loved it. They went directly into a medley I would like to call, The…
Flashback Medley (Costume Party) – During this medley, the choir switched back and forth between groups of choir members singing each song with new costumes every time.
– Lo Yisa Goy (Army costumes – Group 1)
– Od Yishoma (Blue bowtie and sash – Group 2)
– Kol Mi – (White shirts and black pants – Group 3)
– Tehilas Hashem (Black and white sweaters – Group 1) let me point out that the kids from Lo Yisa Goy came back on for this song, when they must have had only five minutes to change out of their previous army costumes; now that’s talent!
– V’haya Machanecha Kadosh – (Black and white sweaters – Choir).
The whole medley was very fast and some parts were very hard to hear, but overall it was a solid performance.
Me’im Hashem – The choreography for this song was fantastic. The sound was crisp, and the crowd loved it.
Revach – They performed this song so well, that even the kids in the audience around me were bopping up and down to it. There were some new harmonies and Begun had a different children sub in for himself when his parts arrived. It was a little bit choppy, but it was amazing for on the spot. The crowd loved this song.
Azor Nah – This song started out with a narration, translating the lyrics in this song. It definitely added to the depth of the song. Yair Kenig, the soloist of the song was on piano, and they had an amazing violinist, Aryeh something… (sorry, it was announced to fast). There was a lot of smokescreen, and I could barely see the two of them, but they sounded amazing. The violin playing was truly a work of art. Bravo, Aryeh something! Hats off (not yarmulkes, chas v’shalom ☺) to Yair Kenig as well. He’s got some voice, and apparently a skilled pianist. There was a huge round of applause at the end. It was that good.
Yavoh – Begun got the crowd pumped with his usual “Let’s go!” The choreography for Yavoh is spectacular. I really enjoyed the song starting off with the choir pretending to be asleep. It was just as good as on the album, and that’s not easy to pull off. The audience loved every second of it, begging for more.
Mehairah – This is a gorgeous song, and the one thing that really surprised me was that they had the soloist sing the extremely hard “Neginaso” shtick during the song. And what surprised me even more was the fact that he hit the key clearly (I wonder how many times he practiced that). The ending was great; in which the choir sat down on the benches they started the song on, and with heads resting on their knees, pretended to fall asleep.
Name Game – To give the evening a more personal touch to it, Begun entered and had each kid come up to announce his name. I could go home and say, “Hey! That Yoshi Bender kid was really solid!” (They were all amazing ☺).
Ayom V’norah – This song was the closer for the concert. The music was a bit too loud, but luckily it didn’t overpower the choir’s voices. This song was the first one in which I could recognize the group harmonies from the album (I know, kind of late, but maybe I’m a little slow. Must be the matzah…). The choreography was on the top of its game again. One of the children took over for Begun during his part of the song (poor Begun, feel better!). There was a short encore at then end in which the choir took turns bowing, and with that Begun said goodnight and Gut Yuntif.
Final Thoughts – Overall I was very happy with this concert. There were some rough spots with the microphones, but every concert has that. Benny Friedman was great, The Alumni were great, The Miami Boys Choir was spectacular, and the choreography was better than all of them. For those of you who read this review and have decided that you to, would like a piece of the Miami Experience, go to jewishtickets.com and purchase the tickets for tonight’s show, which will feature Yehuda Green. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 3:10 in the morning and I have to get up for shacharis in less than five hours (got to love the 8 o’clock shacharis), so Kol Tuv, all the best, and enjoy the rest of your chag!